The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Willamette Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s WillametteValleyMagazine.com
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Willamette Valley Weather
Today– Sunny and hot, with a high near 96. Light north northwest wind becoming north 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon.
Wednesday– Sunny, with a high near 90. Southwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming northwest in the morning.
Thursday– Sunny, with a high near 83. Light west wind becoming north northwest 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph.
Friday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 79.
Saturday– A slight chance of showers before 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 72.
Oregon reports 220 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 3 new deaths
There are three new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,671. The Oregon Health Authority reported 220 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 201,475.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Clackamas (35), Clatsop (1), Columbia (3), Coos (1), Curry (1), Deschutes (17), Douglas (15), Jackson (17), Josephine (6), Klamath (6), Lane (21), Lincoln (3), Linn (9), Marion (31), Morrow (2), Multnomah (39), Polk (5), Tillamook (1), Union (1), Wasco (4), Yamhill (2).
Oregon’s 2,670th COVID-19 death is a 93-year-old man from Jackson County who tested positive on May 13 and died on May 29 at Providence Medford Medical Center. He had underlying conditions.
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 10,198 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 3,943 doses were administered on May 30 and 6,255 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on May 30.
The seven-day running average is now 24,730 doses per day.
Oregon has now administered a total of 2,210,833 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,601,554 first and second doses of Moderna and 143,157 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.
As of today, 1,850,566 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 2,240,922 people who have had at least one dose.
Cumulative daily totals can take several days to finalize because providers have 72 hours to report doses administered and technical challenges have caused many providers to lag in their reporting. OHA has been providing technical support to vaccination sites to improve the timeliness of their data entry into the state’s ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).
These data are preliminary and subject to change. OHA’s dashboards provide regularly updated vaccination data, and Oregon’s dashboard has been updated today.
The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 249, which is one fewer than yesterday. There are 61 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is one more than yesterday.
The total number of COVID-19 positive patient bed-days in the most recent seven days is 1,819, which is an 8.8% decrease from the previous seven days. The peak daily number of beds occupied by COVID-19 positive patients in the most recent seven days is 274.
The total number of patients in hospital beds may fluctuate between report times. The numbers do not reflect admissions per day, nor the length of hospital stay. Staffing limitations are not captured in this data and may further limit bed capacity. More information about hospital capacity can be found here.
The state of Oregon is nearing four million doses administered for Covid-19 vaccines, according to data collected by the Oregon Health Authority. On Sunday OHA reported that 2,203,469 doses of Pfizer, 1,599,347 first and second doses of Moderna and 142,531 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the state. That totals up to a grand total of 3,945,347 doses administered across the state since vaccinations began. However, new daily vaccination rates continue to decrease across the state.
According to OHA on Sunday, 17,982 doses of new Covid-19 vaccine doses were added to the state’s immunization
registry. Of this total, only a little more than 8,100 doses were administered on Saturday while the rest were from previous days. The seven-day running average also fell to 19,942 doses, that’s according to the Covid-19 vaccine tracker on the Oregon Health Authority’s website.
Historic Cannon Returned To Veterans’ Memorial Plaza In Springfield
The historic war artifact has been returned to the Veterans’ Memorial Plaza in Springfield after a tragic incident nearly three months ago when a drunk driver crashed into the howitzer on the corner of Mohawk Boulevard and I Street on March 7.
Crews removed it, and since then, the Springfield community stepped up to repair the howitzer. “For me, it’s now part of the cannon’s story,” Nick Gillaspie, the commander of the American Legion, said. “When it was hit, the axle broke, the pintle hook was bent, and the city, particularly Ryan and Cole took care of it, straightened it all out and repainted it for us,” Gillaspie said.
During the American Legion’s 72nd annual Memorial Day ceremony, two period-correct, military vehicles, a jeep and an M37, rolled up to the ceremony with the repaired 75mm pack howitzer in tow.
Many people who attended the Memorial Day ceremony were relieved to see the howitzer back in the spot it’s rested for as long as the event’s organizers could remember.
“The cannon being put back in place is a time of healing for us,” Brian Descutner said.
This also marked the first holiday since the CDC released new guidance deeming outdoors gatherings of fully vaccinated people safe. Many people at the ceremony said they enjoyed observing the holiday alongside others in their communities.
Fans Able to Watch 2021 Olympic Trials At Hayward Field
There will be fans in the stands at Hayward Field for the U.S. Olympic track and field trials this month.
Organizing committee TrackTown USA announced Saturday that there would be vaccinated and unvaccinated sections at the stadium when the trials come to Eugene from June 18-27.
Vaccinated sections are expected to make up much of the seating. Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination will be required for fans to sit in a vaccinated section.
All customers who retained their orders for tickets through April will be able to keep their tickets, though seating locations are subject to change.
TrackTown had said last month that it would have to give refunds and come up with a new seating plan, but those refunds had not yet gone out. Refunds will still be honored for customers who choose that option, TrackTown said.
It’s unclear exactly how many fans will pack into the 12,700-seat Hayward Field for the trials. Michael Reilly, CEO of TrackTown USA, said certain rows and sections likely will have to stay empty to maintain distancing guidelines between athletes and fans.
Reilly said current ticket orders represented about 7,300 seats per day. Athletes’ families are invited to buy up to four tickets on the days of their competition. After that, remaining ticket inventory will be sold to the public.
TrackTown said it was still finalizing its plans for the trials, and that all plans are subject to change because they must be approved by the Oregon Health Authority.
Fans will be required to wear masks and maintain social distance as they move around the stadium, Reilly said, but it is not clear yet whether fans in vaccinated sections will have to wear masks while at their seats.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Staffing Shortages at the Oregon State Hospital
Significant staffing shortages at the Oregon State Hospital prompted health officials to call for the National Guard’s assistance at the psychiatric facility this week. The state’s health authority, which oversees the hospital, requested 30 nurses from the National Guard.
The governor’s office has not reached a decision on whether to fill that request. Officials say the hospital, which employs 1,800 people and has more than 600 patients, is full and temporarily stopped new admissions.
The hospital treats some of the state’s most vulnerable: those found guilty except for insanity, civil commitment patients, and those ordered to the hospital by a judge on aid and assist orders.
The staffing crisis at the hospital has persisted on and off throughout the pandemic. But the number of staff out on coronavirus-related leave has increased dramatically since February.
Man Dies After Falling 500 Feet Off Mount Hood
Sadly a climber hiking Mount Hood fell to his death Sunday, according to Oregon officials.
The man, identified only as a 63-year-old, was climbing with his adult son when he fell approximately 500 feet from the Old Chute route, at approximately 10,500-foot elevation, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Portland Mountain Rescue, the Hood River Crag Rats and American Medical Response’s Reach and Treat Team all began searching for the victim, but struggled to navigate a difficult terrain and hazards from hydrogen sulfide and other toxic gases.
Rescuers found the victim dead on Mount Hood Sunday afternoon. (Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office/)
Around 10:30 a.m. Sunday, rescuers made visual contact with the victim, who was already dead when they reached him. Around 4:30 p.m., they were able to load the victim into a ”skiable rescue litter basket” and carry him down the mountain.
“Warm weather at this time of year can create very unstable conditions on this area of Mt. Hood, including falling ice,” the sheriff’s office warned in a statement. “The addition of many climbers of varying skill levels can add additional hazards.”
Recent Report Shows Water Infrastructure Across Oregon Is Becoming Too Expensive For Local Governments To Afford
The League of Oregon Cities partnered with Portland State University to survey water supply and quality throughout the state.
They found decades of backlogged water infrastructure needs, and cities across Oregon are struggling to pay the price. The survey shows water infrastructures across Oregon need billions of dollars of improvement.
Tracy Rutten is with the League of Oregon Cities. She says state and federal governments should step in and offer funding help. “There are a lot of communities that are already having citizens that are feeling the financial stress of those increased water and sewer rates,” said Hall. “So I think they’re really finding themselves in a tough position of, do you continue to increase those rates to try and finance this really important and necessary infrastructure locally?”
Rutten said smaller and lower-income communities are hit especially hard by rising utility costs. She thinks federal and state governments should help bridge the gap between what local utilities can afford and what low-income residents can pay.
“A lot of our cities have established their own water rate or sewer rate assistance programs,” said Rutten. “But for a community that is lower income or has a really small population, you’re kind of taking out of the existing water rates only to put back as assistance for low income. So it doesn’t always make sense to do it locally.”
The League of Oregon Cities report assumes that the need for affordable drinking water will increase in coming years, particularly in areas prone to earthquakes. The survey identified approximately $23 billion in statewide water infrastructure costs over the next 20 years — which would be a nearly impossible bill for local governments to cover alone.
Crater Lake National Park Opens the North Entrance Road and West Rim Drive
Warm temperatures and a low snowpack allowed Crater Lake National Park to open the North Entrance Road and West Rim Drive for the Memorial Day Weekend.
Opening the roads means easier access to the park for people traveling north towards Bend or the Rogue Valley or south towards Klamath Falls and typically results in much higher visitation.
The road openings took effect Friday Superintendent Craig Ackerman said visitors can now access “spectacular views of the lake from West Rim Drive.”
Some snow still remains throughout the park, including many locations around and along Rim Drive. All trails are still covered with snow and debris. The Cleetwood, Watchman and upper half of Garfield Peak trails are all officially closed because of hazardous conditions. Also closed is the path to the Sinnott Memorial Overlook.
Medford Homicide Investigation
On May 29th, 2021, at about 1957 hours, Medford Police Officers were dispatched to a report of a person down in the parking lot of Weldon’s Cleaners, 644 Crater Lake Avenue. An officer arrived on scene and found a male suffering from a gunshot wound to the body. He was transported by ambulance to hospital where he died shortly thereafter. Victim: Houze, Robert Douglas 45 years old.
Detectives assumed the investigation, and determined the victim had been inside the business when he got into a verbal dispute with another male. The other male left and came back minutes later in a black SUV. The victim approached the SUV in the parking lot, and victim was shot from the male seated in the vehicle. The vehicle then fled the scene.
Officers later located the vehicle in the 500 block of Mary Street, unoccupied. The vehicle was then linked to a nearby residence, which officers surrounded. The suspect was identified as Lorenzo Fisher, 45 years old. Detectives obtained a search warrant for the residence, and for officer safety reasons, called his cell phone prior to making entry.
The suspect indicated he was not home, and agreed to turn himself in to police in Josephine County. At 2:26 a.m., Fisher was taken into custody by law enforcement in Josephine County and turned over to Medford Police Detectives. He was interviewed and lodged in jail. He was lodged for Murder, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and Unlawful Use of a Weapon.
A search of the suspect’s residence yielded a handgun, believed to be used in the homicide. The investigation revealed the suspect and victim did not know each other prior to the dispute. — Medford Police Dept
Teen Pinned Beneath Vehicle Succumbs to Injuries
At approximately 3:30 a.m. this morning, May 31, 2021, officers responded to the call of a person pinned beneath a vehicle in the south parking lot of Riverfront Park. On arrival, officers found a 15-year-old young man trapped underneath a car.
Four teenage friends were in the vehicle driving through the parking lot. When the 16-year-old female driver stopped the vehicle, the young man exited and climbed onto the hood. The driver proceeded forward when the young man slid off the hood, ultimately becoming pinned under the vehicle.
Another young woman in the group called 9-1-1 immediately, while the fourth juvenile attempted to get assistance.
Salem Fire Department personnel arrived to extricate the injured teen after which paramedics immediately transported him to Salem Health where he died from his injuries.
Due to the age of victim and those involved in the tragic incident, names are not being released. The Salem Police Traffic Team is handling the investigation and no further information will be released at this time. — Salem Police Dept
Record Heat Wave in Western USA
A heatwave is pounding the West where scorching temperatures will reach Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona on Tuesday.
Sacramento smashed a record high on Memorial Day, reaching 104 degrees.
Redding, also in Northern California, reached a sweltering 109 degrees on Monday, breaking the record for the entire month of May.
On Tuesday temperatures are expected to climb to 107 degrees in Bakersfield, California; 105 degrees in Las Vegas; 104 degrees in Medford, Oregon; and 104 degrees in Phoenix.
The heatwave comes as fire danger is especially high in southern Oregon, where a red flag warning has been issued. West anticipating dangerous fire season due to severe drought conditions.
California’s snow has been melting ahead of schedule, which means vegetation will be unusually dry as the Golden State approaches wildfire season later this summer and early fall.
Meanwhile, four states from Texas to Missouri are under flood alerts Tuesday morning. More flooding is forecast Tuesday as this storm system slowly moves through the area.
By Wednesday, the severe weather and heavy rain will move into the Ohio River Valley and Tennessee River Valley with damaging winds and flash flooding possible.
By Thursday, the storm will reach the Northeast with severe weather and damaging winds expected from Virginia to New Jersey.